The Broncos’ Super Bowl chances just got better

Denver signing Evan Mathis, the best guard in the NFL, provides a big upgrade for its offense.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

The Broncos’ Super Bowl chances just got better

The Eagles have had their names in the headlines plenty this offseason, but the move that jumps out as potentially hurting the team was the release of guard Evan Mathis.

Just how good is Mathis? Not only is he the best guard in football, but with a PFF rating of 92.9, only three players in the league rank higher – regardless of position.

Mathis will be a huge upgrade to a line that had plenty of question marks coming into 2014. Four of the Broncos’ five starters either found new homes this offseason or have already landed on injured reserve. Mathis will likely replace rookie Max Garcia at left guard in the starting lineup, who had a +0.1 PFF grade over two preseason games.

The move means the Broncos will challenge the Ravens for the best guard duo in the NFL, as Mathis will be paired with Louis Vasquez, who was the highest-graded right guard in the NFL in 2013. Vasquez dropped off some in 2014, in large part due to a midseason switch to right tackle, but he is now back at his more natural position.

Running back C.J. Anderson should be happy with this move. Last year Anderson averaged 2.7 yards before contact per carry when running to the right, and just 1.7 yards before contact per carry when running to the left. Mathis’ presence should allow Anderson to even those totals out a little bit more this season.

Mathis’ arrival will also help QB Peyton Manning. Mathis was the ninth-best guard in the NFL last season in pass protection, and is going from a team that gave its quarterback a lot of time to throw. Manning tends to get the ball out quickly — Denver had the lowest time to throw in the league last season – but the improved pass protection will certainly help him as he looks to recover from a decline in performance at the end of 2014.

With players like Manning, Demaryius Thomas and Von Miller already on the roster, the Broncos were already a Super Bowl contender. With the addition of Mathis, those chances have increased in a significant way.

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

  • bobrulz

    I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about news relating to a guard.

  • Shona Bryant

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  • donnie johnson

    For the life of me, I don’t understand how this isn’t a bigger story.

    • enai D

      Yeah, that a player Mathis’ caliber was still available at this point is pretty shocking. Was really surprised no one had picked him up sooner.

      • Rick S.

        Chip Kelly really screwed him by waiting until after most teams had spent their free agent budgets to cut him.

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    • Hanzo the Razor

      Despite their importance, the offensive line doesn’t seem to excite most football fans for whatever reason (I’m assuming because they don’t touch the ball very often or get exciting stats like sacks or INTs).

      • Malachi

        because most “fans” just care about fantasy

    • chickenhed

      Couldn’t agree more. Mathis is a legit superstar and it truly makes me curious why he wanted out of Philly, OR why Philly wanted him out. He’s a spectacular player.

  • AJ

    Top-to-bottom, before signing Mathis, this was already the strongest roster Denver has had since Manning arrived. Adding a player like Mathis to the only real weak position group on the team cannot be understated.

    Normally, signing a guard (in the middle of preseason) is not that big of a deal, but this signing is absolutely huge.

    • Malachi

      yea, i think this is the year we finally finish with the #1 overall D, hopefully that leads to glory

    • Rick S.

      The 2012 team is close in terms of starters, but when factoring the depth of 2015 as well as the coaching, this team blows them away. Denver has a great chance to go to and win the SuperBowl this year.

  • Malachi

    this should at least be linked to on the denver broncos page as well, srsly..

  • Zach

    I feel like Anderson’s projected rush total goes up at least 200 yards with this signing alone

  • John Ortiz

    What will be Peyton’s excuse this year? This team is loaded on both sides of the ball.

    • ElwayIsGod7

      Probably that he wasn’t allowed to cheat like Brady.